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Tentative pact reached on airport name

Published:   |   Updated: March 7, 2013 at 04:23 PM

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It took a 10-hour marathon meeting Wednesday to tentatively resolve the lawsuit against Hernando County involving the re-naming of its airport.

Representatives of Hernando County and the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority signed a tentative agreement allowing the use of "Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport."

County commissioners will meet Tuesday to consider ratifying the agreement and the Hillsborough Aviation Authority is expected to do so in March.

County Commission Chairman Dave Russell, who was involved in the mediation process, said there were mutually agreeable conditions which will be ratified.

"We will enjoy our newly found partnership with Tampa International," Russell said. "This is a win-win all the way around and I'm just as proud as I can be of both sides in the negotiating teams."

Russell said there was much posturing on both sides but a one-on-one discussion with the aviation chairman Wednesday showed there were more benefits to working together.

Janet Zink, director of communications with Tampa International Airport, declined to add specifics.

"We have no comment on the ongoing mediation," Zink said. "Discussing it is strictly prohibited by the court."

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority last year voted to spend up to $400,000 to fight the name change, saying in a lawsuit that it would be a "false designation of origin, false advertising, Florida common law trademark infringement and Florida trademark dilution."

Hernando County officials were adamant about rebranding the airport to take advantage of the "Tampa" name to attract out-of-state companies.

Airport Manager Don Silvernell was understandably pleased with the news, which took only one mediation session.

"As soon as our board and their board approve the agreement, then we will move forward with the total rebranding," Silvernell said.

Barring any last-minute changes, Silvernell said he will work on erecting new signs throughout the airport and adjacent industrial park and hire someone to develop a new logo. He estimates signage replacement will cost $20,000 to $25,000 and a new logo design between $2,000 and $5,000.

To date, the airport has spent about $15,000 on legal fees fighting the lawsuit, he said. That money comes out of airport reserves and not the county general fund.

Originally, Hernando County officials wanted to call the local facility the Brooksville-Tampa Regional Airport.

But after the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority chose to fight the name, county commissioners threw out a compromise name with the word "Bay" in the title.

Silvernell said he has no problem with the additional word.

"Personally, I don't see that it makes that much difference," he said. (352) 544-5290

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